Cases/hospitalizations in the US and Michigan: Is this a canary in the coal mine for the rest of the US?

Y’all, we are still in this race between variants and vaccines. And, some states are not winning while others are right behind.

⭐ Short answer: US hospitalizations and cases are increasing in the US, predominantly among YOUNGER people. This is mainly due to the B.1.1.7 variant (the one that originally was found in the UK) which is causing more severe disease among 30-50 year-olds. Michigan is the first state to see the scenario play out while we are trying to get vaccines rolled-out to people. Remember when we said we are in a race with vaccines against variants? This is it in Michigan, friends. Let me show you why that is concerning for younger folks (and older folks that aren’t vaccinated yet). And, don’t think this disease is just about dying. Yes, younger people are more likely to not die from COVID-19. But, 33% will have long-COVID symptoms (including neuro problems) that can last for months – the average age of that is 40s and in previously healthy women.

✅ LET’S LOOK AT US DATA FIRST:

Cases continue to increase – there’s been an 11% change in cases in the US over the past 14 days. What is really concerning? Hospitalizations are also increasing by 9%. That trend is a bit different than what we saw in previous surges. Usually hospitalization increasing lagged a bit more behind cases. Not with this surge. Why? Probably because B.1.1.7 (the dominant strain in the US) is more contagious and severe, even among younger folks.

✅ NOW LET’S GO TO MICHIGAN: By now, you’ve all heard about the situation in Michigan (for those of you in Michigan, I’m so sorry!). What we are seeing happening in Michigan can easily become what will happen in the Midwest and then to the rest of the country. In fact, we are now seeing early signs of the same situation happening in New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the panhandle of Texas. Let’s look at the data for Michigan:

◾ 1. Michigan has 9 out of the top 10 highest case rates per capita in the US metro areas. Over the past 7 days, Michigan has reported over 50,000 cases. 50,000 cases is a LOT for one state.

2. Let’s compare the numbers 4-6 weeks ago. This time period matters because that’s the time it takes for vaccines to really take effect (remember you need 2 shots of mRNA). The incubation period of the disease is an average of 5 days – so, the virus has the advantage time-wise against the vaccines.

– CASES: Michigan was averaging 1,200 cases per day 4 weeks ago. Now, they are averaging 7,000 cases per day.

– HOSPITALIZATIONS: Hospitalizations jumped 301% in a month.

– PERCENT POSITIVITY: This jumped from 6% to 16-18% in a month.

◾ 3. B.1.1.7 is now the dominant strain in the US – and is really affecting the Michigan surge. Of the cases that are sequenced, 40% are the B.1.1.7 variant in the state. Remember this variant is more contagious and more severe.

◾ 4. Cases among kids 10-19 have risen for 5 consecutive weeks – faster than any other age group in the state. Although they, thankfully, do not get as sick, they still spread and you can see that in Michigan to more vulnerable adults. A few weeks ago, the surge began in this age group (10-19), then moved to 20-29, then to 30-39.

👏 We 👏 HAVE 👏 to pay attention to kid’s sports, schools, interactions.

◾ 5. Half of the hospitalized patients are under 60.

◾ 6. What about vaccines? Only 23% have been fully vaccinated. This is HIGHER than other states that have high variant rates too (like Texas, Florida, California, New York).

⭐ So, we are watching Michigan closely. I think it could be a foreshadowing of what is to come and what we have been talking about for a month now – we are in a race between vaccines and variants, friends. And, some states are not winning. I hope you can see how quickly these variants can win the race. We aren’t lying or trying to scare anyone. We are trying to show through the real-time data that this situation is serious. Especially when you think about the time frames of the incubation period of the virus and how long vaccines take to be fully in effect. 5 days versus 1 month means the virus has the advantage in the race. Particularly with B.1.1.7 which is more contagious.

⭐ Please get your vaccines when you can. They are safe and effective against these variants! Don’t believe the bunk-science circulating about them. I’m posting a misinformation-round-up about the vaccines later – there’s a lot of junk out there.

⭐ Wear those masks. Distance. Wash hands. No indoor-dining or indoor-events where everyone is not masked. Stay vigilant, web-peeps!

-FNE

SOURCES:

Variant info: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_casesinlast7days

US and Michigan data: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html

All the data you could ever want on why the vaccines are safe and effective: https://www.facebook.com/friendlyneighborepidemiologist/posts/269789581310365

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